Bumiller and Bush: Amigos!

Elisabeth Bumiller says Bush loves his friends from south of the border. Jose Canseco remembers it differently.


Tim Grieve
May 16, 2006 5:37PM (UTC)

We thought the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller reached some sort of pinnacle of presidential pandering when she wrote nearly 1,000 words on the White House Correspondents' Association dinner without mentioning the existence of Stephen Colbert.

It appears that we misunderestimated her.

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Bumiller's report on George W. Bush's immigration speech is a thing to behold, and we commend it to you in its entirety. Read it, savor it, then put it away wherever you hold your most precious memories -- like that report that Harriet Miers once called George W. Bush the "smartest man" she'd ever met.

And if you haven't got time for all that, here's Bumiller on Bush abbreviated:

"In substance and tone the address reflected the more subtle approach of a man shaped by Texas border-state politics and longtime personal views ... The real theme of his speech was that the nation can be, as he phrased it, 'a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time' ... What was remarkable to people who knew Mr. Bush in Texas was how much he still believes in the power of immigration to invigorate the nation ... 'He always spoke well of Mexican nationals and regarded them as hard-working people. So his grace notes on this subject are high' ... 'He understands this community in the way you do when you live in a border state ... Philosophically, he understands why people want to come to the U.S.'"

Bumiller says that Bush "first met Mexican immigrants at public school in Midland, Tex.," then employed some as field workers for the small oil company he owned. But never, it seems, did the president love his friends from south of the border as much as he did when some worked for him as ballplayers.

"When he was the managing partner of the Texas Rangers," Bumiller says, Bush "reveled in going into the dugout and joking with the players, many of them Hispanic, in fractured Spanglish."

Funny, that's not how Jose Canseco remembers it. In his New York Times bestseller, "Juiced," Canseco -- who played for Bush's Rangers -- said he "never had any sort of conversation" with the future president. "I shook his hand and met him once, but that was about it," Canseco writes. "Bush did gravitate toward Nolan Ryan a bit, probably because he was a legend, and also closer to his age. He didn't talk to us Latinos much."

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Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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